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Received an interesting email question today from a young writer who's a listsib (a person who is also subscribed to a mailing list I am subscribed to, for those not fluent in listspeak). She wanted to know when "too much explicit detail is too explicit". I advised her that I wasn't the person to ask since I've been criticized from both sides of the spectrum. What follows, however, is the rest of my letter to her. I'm sharing it here with permission...

I've written before about a Wiseguy fan novels writer whose hackles arose visibly when I approached her to introduce myself. You could literally see the chip forming on her shoulder. Her partner fell in line soon after (she had once written me a very nice LOC) and started describing my novels as "good, entry-level Wiseguy slash" as opposed to her lady's more sophisticated novels filled with buzzing buttplugs, I suppose. lol I'd always liked her novels (the first one anyway since I didn't read the others) and respected her right to write them however she pleased without me knocking her but she certainly didn't seem compelled to return the favor.

My Wiseguy slash was a lot of things ... weirdly-worded, long-winded, grammatically hazardous, occasionally purplish (though not nearly as bad as my Blake's 7 "made beauty a poor cousin to the truth" stuff) ... but "entry level", I don't think so. Still, everyone has a right to an opinion ... even me.

I also received an email from someone saying my slash was "too explicit" ... that I wrote "porn" (as if that wuz a bad thing) and not "erotica". When I dialed down the heat for my Northern Exposure erotica (because that fandom doesn't tolerate adult fic well), I was told by my slash readers that the novel was "very tame" and "too mild".

Ah, well, you can't please everyone so you got to please yourself ... as somebody at a Garden Party once said. This illustrates that there's always somebody with an idea about what you should be writing. There is no one right answer, however, except for the one you give yourself. I take the input into consideration if it comes from someone whose writing I admire but if you listen to all the input too much, you stop writing your own stories and start writing someone else's.

I do strongly recommend you get a good beta and editor, though. (All hail, Annie the Booker and Lyn of Townsend, my betas and birthday trips) They can really help you not look like an ass at times.

One last thing, the emailer also wanted to know "when it was okay to call herself a writer". It seems some of the fannish hierarchy (primates are so cute) have been perplexed over the issue in recent days. So here goes --- Amy, you're a writer. Someone who writes is a writer. It's that simple. And it ain't like canonization, folks. We're not doing brain surgery.

Speaking of which, poor Natasha Richardson underscores all that is really important ... the moments we have now with our friends and family. The rest is just set decoration. It all goes by too fast to worry about stuff like this. Write your own stories. Nothing else matters.

Comments

john_booth
Mar. 19th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Ah, sorry, I misunderstood.

I believe there is great scope for originality in writing screenplays for TV shows just as there is also similar scope in fanfic writing. I wasn't saying that stealing characters and worlds robs the writer of the ability to be original. (Though obviously it can restrict it.) On the other hand, couldn't the author say it even better in an environment they invented? Tom Stoppard controlled his environment perfectly within the literary in-joke he was playing.


My point was almost all about the ethics of doing it without permission and also about perverting the original characters outrageously (Though I only said that about the slash genre.) I also have concerns about the level of obsession in some fan stuff, it doesn't seem entirely healthy to me, whether it be about a book, TV show or a real person.

I've reread my comments and I can't find anywhere where I said you couldn't be original in fanfic or slash. Some of the most original work is written in the most constrained worlds and situations.

Sorry if I gave that impression.
carose59
Mar. 19th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
What I was responding to was "If you are a good writer (or even a bad writer with pretensions) don't you want to create something unique to yourself?"

The answer for me is, no, I don't. I know my limitations, and I write fan fiction because it's what I enjoy. (And I write slash.) *g*
john_booth
Mar. 19th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
Every lady should have a hobby :-)
melodyclark
Mar. 19th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
She's also a very good writer. And she writes fan fic by gum!

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